Dear Friends, today my heart is sad. I woke this morning and went through my normal routine of checking emails and such when I came to buzzfeed and the first headline I saw was: “Harper Lee dies at age 89”.
I was in sixth grade when I was asked to play Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird along side my friends and colleagues at The Magik Theatre in San Antonio. I quickly cut my hair, to that Jean Louise bowl cut and grabbed a copy of the book. I tore through it. Surprisingly, or maybe not, it was never required reading. At least I never remember it being. The characters in the book spoke to me as they do to everyone who reads it. You want to be as good as Atticus and see the world the way the children, Scout, Jem, and Dill do. To somehow get back to a place where the world was still a mystery and you didn’t know of all the evil happening around you.
I have many memories of that show, but one that stands out for me always when I think back on it is a scene where Scout and the boys follow Atticus to the jail cell where Tom Robinson is being held. Atticus was told that a mob was coming to take Tom away and ultimately lynch him for the crimes he allegedly committed. Disobeying her brother’s orders of not getting involved she rushes to her father’s side and recognizes one of the men as boy’s father whom she goes to school with, even hidden under his white sheet.
Is that you, Mr. Cunningham? Well, don’t you recognize me, sir? I go to school with your boy Walter.
I turned to see my friend David Morgan take the sheet off of his head and face me with tears in his eyes. “Yes, I recognize you.”
The show and all the people in it live with my forever. The book changed lives, the play changed mine. I will aways have a part of Scout with me. So it is on this day, and yes, with tears in my eyes I say my goodbyes to Ms. Harper Lee. You wanted to be the Jane Austen of the South and you were, ma’am, you were. We will never forget your words and the lessons you so beautifully taught us. Thank you and rest easy.
“I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks”
Nelle Harper Lee- 1926-2016